A perfect day for a perfect race! The Liv/Giant Mermaid Triathlon @ Capitola was the last race I did 3 years ago in 2011 so it was super cool to return to the venue. Plus, I love the city of Capitola - my favorite little beach city in Nor Cal.
I wrote earlier about my first brick training day back in August of this year on the Sprint triathlon bike and run courses and first open water swim on Labor Day. This training proved benefitical as the hill on the run course was not nearly as steep as I had recalled when I did the race in 2011. The updated bike course was definitely less technical than the previous course. That said, being on a non-closed bike course with live traffic makes racing not the highest priority - safety first.
To recap the race experience, it started the day before when I headed down to Capitola to spend the night at a hotel. Of course I could have opted to get up at 4AM and drive there but that didn't seem as appealing. I was able to get up at 5:20AM and be in the transition area right around 6AM when it opened. Transition area is in one of the main beach parking lots, which is around .25 mile from the actual swim start and exit. After setting up transition and warming up, we headed down to the swim start area on the right side of the pier. Most races I have done in Capitola/Santa Cruz have started in the fog and cold. But this today was bright and sunny. We were already hot standing around in our wetsuits. The water usuals feels quite cold but did not on this day. It was a running run and I was super excited to get in the water and go! There was some chop when we started so I had to keep looking up to sight properly. After passing the two buoys, the best line was a diagonal to the beach swim exit. There were two large yellow banners to mark the shoreline so these prove benefitical for sighting. I think I took a good line but hard to know since I don't GPS track my swim, not yet at least.
Now for what ended up being the most painful part - after exiting the water, I reached the sidewalk and stripped off the wetsuit. Then I proceeded up the road back to transition. The road was so rough on my feet. I was trying to jog quickly but by the top of the hill, the bottoms of my feet were killing me! It felt like nails! Once I turned into the parking lot, the pavement improved a little. I focused on getting on bike and out of there.
On the bike course, there were cones out but they were keeping us in the bike lane, which is a challenge since I always have to pass other bikers on the left. Plus I don't trust that the bike lanes are free of debris and other obstacles. I ended up riding near the right side of the road for most of the time. The conditions on the McGregor road had improved since my training day since they paved it. I felt like I had good speed but not as strong as Pacific Grove Triathlon. I think it was just easier on that course to focus soley on speed since it was a closed course. On this race, I was constantly watching for car traffic, other racers, and road conditions. I knew my average speed wasn't where I wanted it but getting it any faster didn't seem possible given the obstacles. On the climb up Porter Gulch road, I knew it was just over one mile or so. I think I could have pushed hard but didn't. On the descent, I was really concerned about potholes and the shadows are on road made it difficult to see anything on the road. I didn't want to risk being more aggressive. One woman passed me on the descent, which rarely tends to happen to me. I was able to pass her back within 5 mintes when being back on the flats.
After a successful and not overly exhausting bike leg, I was ready to run. I started off and didn't feel aweful, which was an improvement over See Jane Run triathlon 2 weeks ago. The initial hill on the run really wasn't bad. By one mile in, I was actually feeling good and thinking, ya - I got this. At the run turnaround, I was really excited since you get a nice downhill before the beach finish. I did worry about the sand finish since running in the sand is never easy and definitely slows you down. Three years ago, I was passed by a woman in my age group on the final sand run. I did not want that to happen this time. So I pushed really really hard on that last beach part. When I crossed the finish line, they asked if I needed a medic since I was breathing so hard. That's how you know you finished right! :-)
To close it out, I was ranked 2nd in Age Group and got to finally stand on the podium again! Super fun and I got the video to prove it. Thanks to the Mermaid Series for putting on a great event!